Mays Family Foundation: Texas Grants

OVERVIEW: The Mays Family Foundation makes the majority of its gifts in Texas, with emphasis on San Antonio. Grantmaking involves education, the environment, human services, arts and culture, and more.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, Health, Environment & Animals, Arts & Culture, Human Services, Churches

IP TAKE: The Mays Family Foundation accepts applications via its online application system and even provides a pdf document and video tutorial to ease the process. Mays favors organizations that "collaborate with other grantees and organizations, measure results, and have a history of success."

PROFILE: L. Lowry Mays grew up Dallas. He went to Texas A&M University and started out working as a petroleum engineer. In the early 1970s, Lowry and fellow Texan "Red" McCombs purchased their own radio station. Today, Clear Channel Communications, now called iHeartCommunications, is the nation's largest radio operator. Lowry was once on the Forbes billionaire list, but it's unclear how much he's currently worth.

The Mays Family Foundation was initially funded in 2004 by Lowry Mays and his wife Peggy Pitman Mays. In a recent year, the foundation held some $290 million in assets and gave away around $11.6 million. The foundation's grantmaking focuses in on the state of Texas, and especially San Antonio, where the couple resides. The good news for grantseekers is that Mays has an accessible website, is open to applications and meets several times a year to review them.

The foundation also states that it favors organizations that:

  • Collaborate with other grantees and organizations.
  • Do not compete with other non-profits
  • Measure results
  • Have a history of success

The Mays Family Foundation even provides a pdf document and an online tutorial to ease the application process.

    One of the couple's focus areas is education and at least $20 million went to University of Texas-Austin last decade. The foundation has awarded grants to University of Texas-Houston and Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas. In addition, Mays has been heavily involved with his alma mater, Texas A&M, where the business school is named in his honor. Grants of late have gone to outfits such as Alamo Community Colleges, Alamo Heights High School Foundation, dropout prevention organization Communities in Schools, and Eanes Education Foundation, which works within Eanes Independent School District in Austin.

    The Mays Family Foundation also earmarks grants for health, and the motivations here are personal. Mays suffered a stroke and Peggy had cancer. In 2015, the couple gave a $5 million gift to University of Texas Health Science Center’s Cancer Therapy and Research Center (CTRC). Peggy received treatment at this outfit some three decades ago. The foundation also recently gave $2.5 million to Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. Other recent grantmaking through the foundation includes Bulverde-Spring Branch EMS, MD Anderson Cancer Center, St. David's Health Care Foundation and Lone Star Paralysis Foundation. Some $950,000 has gone to Texas Biomedical Research Institute in the two most recent tax years available, as well.

    Mays has funded select environmental and animal outfits in Texas including Animal Defense League in San Antonio, Bat Conservation International in Austin, and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, an Austin-based outfit focused on native Texas plants and their benefits. It's worth mentioning that some of this philanthropy occurs outside of the state, particularly in Wyoming.

    Arts and culture outfits in Texas have also received money from the Mays Family Foundation. In 2014, the Mays Family Foundation donated $1.25 million toward the ongoing construction of the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio. The Tobin Center received $500,000 in the 2013 fiscal year, as well. Recent sums have gone to outfits such as Briscoe Western Art Museum, San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio Zoo (which received $525,000 in the 2013 fiscal year), and the Witte Museum, which received more than $1 million in the 2013 fiscal year. Large amounts of money have also gone to the George W. Bush Foundation, which supports the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. The George W. Bush Foundation received $2.4 million in the two most recent tax years available.

    United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County received a $1 million grant in 2013. Money has also gone to special education school, The Arc of San Antonio, and to Texas churches such as Pius X Church, St. Anthony De Padua Church, and Christ Episcopal Church.


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